HOUSTON - JUNE 20: Lance Berkman #17 of the Houston Astros reacts to striking out in the ninth inning against the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park on June 20, 2010 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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First, let's take a look at how Berkman is hitting this season. In just over 200 at bats, he is hitting .239-.342-.385 with just 6 HRs and 29 RBIs. His BABIP is .285 vs a career BABIP of .318, so some of his batted balls should start falling for hits. One cautionary note is that his ISO is at a career low of .146 vs a career ISO of .252. He is striking out a tad higher than usual-23% vs a career K% of 20%, and is walking less-13% vs a career BB% of 15%. Is this due to injury or a slump? Or a result of hitting in a horrible lineup?
I think it is a result of him hitting in a bad lineup. I could see him hitting well should he get dealt to another team by the trade deadline. That begs the question-who will be pursuing Berkman in a trade? I can see several AL teams attempt to deal for him. Let's take a look:
Yankees-they are the obvious choice. Their DH Nick Johnson is hurt yet again, and Berkman would be a perfect fit to fill in for him by the trade deadline. Plus, with Alex Rodriguez hurting and Mark Teixeira still fighting a season long slump, the Yankees need some pop in their lineup, and any left-handed power hitter suits Yankee stadium just fine. The Astros will look for pitching prospects likeAndrew Brackman or a hitting prospect like Brandon Laird. They will most likely start the talks asking for Jesus Montero and see where those talks go.
Rays-the Rays are a young team and Berkman would be a perfect fit in the clubhouse and on the field. The Rays could replace Hank Blalock with Berkman at DH and bat him 4th or 5th, which would lengthen their lineup. The Rays certainly don't need any starting pitching currently, so improving the lineup with a proven veteran could keep them in the race all season. The Rays have a stocked farm system, so they have the resources to deal for Berkman. Desmond Jennings and Jeremy Hellicksonmay be too much to give up for the aging Berkman, but the Rays could afford to deal left-handed pitching prospects Matt Moore or Jake McGee in a deal for Berkman.
Angels-the Angels have an obvious opening at first base to deal for Berkman, but they have been getting by with Mike Napoli and Brian Quinlan. Once the Angels cool off (hopefully starting tonight!), the chants to replace injured Kendry Morales will start up again. The Angels could offer struggling young slugger Brandon Wood to see if a change of scenery could help him reach his potential. Left handed pitching prospect Trevor Reckling is another name that could be discussed.
Rockies-here's another young team that could use some veteran presence in their lineup, and withTodd Helton's power being non-existent for several years now, Berkman could solidify a lineup looking for a power bat in the middle of their lineup. It would be tough to push Helton aside, especially with the contract, but Berkman could provide a boost to the Rockies lineup with Troy Tulowitzki sidelined for up to two months. The Rockies have several solid young pitching prospects including Christian Freidrich and Jhoulys Chacin. A change of scenery could provide more playing time for Eric Young Jr. as well.